Leslie Dowler CD(DONA)



Delta, BC 


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My Birth Stories


September 11, 2001, was a day that the world will remember forever. I watched with growing anxiety as the events of that day played out. Three days later I was  still unable to eat, overcome with nausea. As the day went on it dawned on me that my period was also overdue. I stopped at the drugstore on the way home and... I was pregnant. With an IUD. With no plans to have a baby any time soon. I called around in hopes of finding a midwife but unfortunately there were none serving my area at the time so I found care with a family physician. My husband and I took childbirth education classes offered at the hospital and naively thought that we had all of the tools we needed. I was adamant that I would have a natural birth and breastfeed without supplementation. I read every natural childbirth book I could get my hands on and joined two local LLL groups for breastfeeding support.  I did not have a good relationship with my doctor and felt that he doubted my ability to birth naturally. Our visits were 10 minutes long and very clinical. 

My contractions started around 1pm, 15 minutes apart on May 19.  We went on with our plans to attend a retirement party, going home around 10pm with contractions coming about every 10 minutes. It was getting harder to hide the fact that I was in labour and I wanted to go home and rest. By 3 am my contractions were coming about every five minutes and we headed to the hospital. I was so pleased with how I was handling them,   totally rocking this natural childbirth thing. I held my breath as the nurse checked my cervix. I felt that I had to be at least 5 cm as I'd been in labour for 16 hours now. 2cm. That's ok I chirped, I've got this! The nurse offered me drugs and I declined. at 6 am I was still 2cm. And at 10 am I was still 2cm and the doctor ruptured my membranes hoping to help speed up labour. And at 2pm I was still.... 2cm. My contractions were so intense and painful, they were making me gasp and thrash. The nurse offered drugs and I gave up and took the offer of demerol. At 5:30pm I was now 4cm and struggling. My husband was of his element, unsure of how to help me. I relented and consented to the epidural. I was told that the anesthesiologist was on the golf course, being a holiday weekend, and it would take him about an hour to make it in. At this point I lost my composure. The nurse asked if I wanted more demerol, but all it had done was make me feel woozy so I said no. 

It was about 6:50 when the anesthesiologist and doctor arrived. I insisted on one more cervical assessment and was found to be fully dilated. I sent the anesthesiologist packing and started to push. The first push felt good- was finally doing something productive! The nurse's eyes got big and the doctor appeared literally hopping into his booties like a Mr. Bean skit. He told me to push. Then he told me not to push. What? Wait? Push? Don't push? Why can't I push? Oh my gawd I want to push so badly! Then I felt the "ring of fire" as I panted frantically my baby's head was born. One small push and her shoulders were out. One small push and Sarah was born at 7:10 pm on May 20th weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces.  I even got through without a tear.  Shortly after birth our breastfeeding journey began. That's another story to come later. 

May 20, 2004 was my daughter's second birthday. It was also the day that our son was conceived. This time we got lucky, we now had a midwife service our area! I was so thrilled to have a care provider who believed in me and my ability to birth a baby naturally. Our visits were leisurely as she asked about how I was feeling emotionally, what sort of support I had, and if I had any questions or concerns. When I said that I had birthed before without an epidural and really wanted this birth to be natural she was completely on board. 

My due date came and went. I was so uncomfortable! I'd had two false starts at labour, lost my mucous plug, and was barely able to get through the day chasing an active child.  Then another week went by.  I was sent for a routine post-date ultrasound where it was found that my fluid levels were critically low and I'd be induced tomorrow.  I asked the tech if she could estimate the baby's weight and she said yes. After a good 20 minutes of trying to get the measurements she gave up saying that the baby's head wouldn't fit on the screen and the femur measurement was off the charts!


I was actually happy to be induced, the idea of waiting for labour to start on it's own was no longer appealing and I was afraid that my baby was in danger. Plus, I knew this baby would be big. I was given a cervadil treatment at 9:30 am on Feb 11 and told to stay in bed on the monitors for a half hour. Then I got up and went for a walk. One contraction, keep walking,  two contractions, keep walking! Well that was fast. Labour started at about 10 am with contractions coming 8 minutes apart. As I kept moving, they kept building. I wanted to hop in the tub but was told I should wait for labour to progress a bit more first. We walked, we swayed, we showered, the OB removed the cervadil and I was 5 cm dilated around 1pm. Woohoo! My waters broke around 2 and the contractions became very intense. This time the midwife talked me through each one. There was no mention of drugs or an epidural, just coaching and reassurance. At 3:45 I was found to be 8cm with a lip on one side. She suggested that I lay on my left side with a rolled up pillow between my knees. I managed to stay there for about three contractions before I shouted out "I NEED TO PUSH!" And she said "no, no, no, you're not ready yet!" To which I said "The baby is coming!" and she took a quick peek, smacked the button on the wall (our nurse had just gone for a coffee break) and my son was born gently into her hands at 4:07pm with ONE push and a bit of panting. Miles weighted in at 10 pounds, 3 ounces. 

Miles was placed onto my chest immediately and shortly after he latched on and fed. Sarah came to meet him and we all went home happily within 6 hours of birth. It was this experience that planted the seed of midwifery as a career. I went on to tandem nurse for 6 months and Miles weaned at 3 years and 3 months of age, ironically the exact same age as Sarah had weaned.